A second city councillor has come out in opposition to increasing fees for passengers flying out of the Campbell River Airport.
At Monday night’s council meeting, council gave first and second reading to a city bylaw that will allow for a 100 per cent incease to the city’s Airport Improvement Fee by next year.
Council previously endorsed the fee hike at its March 27 regular meeting and at that time, Coun. Larry Samson was the lone councillor opposed.
On Monday night, however, Coun. Charlie Cornfield said he also couldn’t support the fee increase.
“I’ve put a lot of thought into it and I don’t like putting this increase onto the airlines,” Cornfield said. “I’d prefer to find another way.”
The fee, which is currently $4 per passenger, is set to increase to $6.25 per passenger on June 1 of this year and to $8.50 per passenger on Jan. 1, 2018.
The Airport Improvement fee is applied to passengers flying out of Campbell River on both Pacific Coastal and Central Mountain Air flights.
Cornfield, though, said he’s concerned the fee increase may convince people to instead choose to fly out of Comox which charges a $5 Airport Improvement Fee.
“I want to make sure that we stay competitive with other airports in our geographical service area,” Cornfield said.
Mayor Andy Adams, though, pointed out that even with the increase, Campbell River’s fee is still less than most other comparable airports charge.
“With the exception of Comox to our immediate south, this actually does keep us below the median levels of airports of similar size throughout the province,” Adams said.
It also keeps the Campbell River Airport’s fee below the Airport Improvement Fees charged in Nanaimo ($10) and Victoria ($15).
Adams said the decision was also made to phase the increase in over two years, rather than upping the fee to $8.50 this year.
Council approved the fee hike – with the exception of councillors Cornfield and Samson, who was also concerned with staying competitive with Comox – out of a need to keep up with airport operations and airport vehicle replacement costs.
Tyler Massee, airport manager, and Elle Brovold, the city’s property services manager, explained in a joint report to council last month that the yearly operating cost for the city’s airport fleet was $95,000 and the capital replacement cost was another $90,000 on top of that.
“The current AIF (Airport Improvement Fee) will not be sufficient to meet future needs,” they wrote.
The increase, however, “will generate approximately $130,000 annually; this new capital will provide the required funds for the annual capital replacement costs for the airport fleet.”
Other fees charged at the Campbell River Airport, a $7.50 Per Passenger Fee applied to every passenger flying in and out of the Campbell River Airport, as well as a Regulatory Recovery Fee ($2.50) charged to passengers boarding flights leaving Campbell River, will remain unchanged.